What is a cord of wood?

Are you a wood-burning enthusiast considering purchasing a cord of wood, but don't know what a cord of wood is? Then you're in the right place! In this comprehensive blog post, we will be discussing everything you need to know about a cord of wood - from its definition to various ways to measure a cord of wood. So if you’re curious about cordwood and want to be in the know, keep reading!

Quick Recap

A cord of wood is a volume measurement for firewood, equal to 128 cubic feet. It is traditionally measured as a stack 8 feet long, 4 feet high and 4 feet deep. One of the most common ways of going through a cord of wood is with a log splitter

What is a Cord of Wood?

A cord of wood is a volumetric unit of measurement of firewood or other organic materials. Firewood is traditionally sold in cords, which typically measure 4'x4'x8' or 128 cubic feet. It is the equivalent of a single full rack measuring 8 feet in length, 4 feet in width and 4 feet in height. The amount of firewood stacked in a cord will depend on the type of wood and how it is cut.

Agreement exists that a cord should contain 128 cubic feet of logs, but there is disagreement over how much actually constitutes a cord due to how it is stacked and what size pieces are included. A commonly accepted argument is that for a convenient arrangement for customers, the size may grow up to 180 cubic feet when full-length logs are used. On the other hand, some argue that any stack that exceeds 120 cubic feet should be referred to as a “face cord” instead of a full cord or true cord.

The term "Face Cord" refers to an amount of wood equal to one-third of a full cord, measuring 4'x8'x16" (or 32 cubic feet). A face cord usually contains smaller pieces than a full cord and may have larger gaps between them due to being less densely packed. Face cords are popular because they require smaller amounts of labor to stack than larger cords, so can be more cost efficient for companies who buy and sell firewood in bulk.

Regardless of the differences in opinion on sizing, all sources agree that when buying firewood, understanding what a cord really is plays an important role in receiving accurate measurements. With this knowledge, buyers can ensure that they get what they pay for and sellers can feel confident that their customers will receive fair measure for their money. Now that you understand what a cord is, let's look at how it's officially defined according to industry standards.

Lead into next section sentence: The definition of a cord provides buyers and sellers with important information needed when purchasing and selling firewood; let's delve deeper into those regulations below.

  • A cord of wood typically contains 128 cubic feet (3.62 cubic meters) of stacked, air-dried firewood, measuring 4 feet by 4 feet by 8 feet.
  • In the United States, the average price for a cord of oak firewood is around $120, with prices ranging from $90 to $150.
  • A full cord of wood can weigh up to 2.15 tons (4,300 lbs).

The Definition of a Cord

A cord is the standard unit of measurement for firewood and other forms of wood. It is defined as a stack of wood measuring four feet high, eight feet long and four feet deep. Typically, this volume of wood is divided into even sections or splits that are composed of logs, woodland debris, sticks or other materials used for garden landscaping. Different regions may have their own unique definition of what constitutes a cord and how it should be measured.

The term cord has been in use since at least the 16th century, with some arguing that it could be even older than that. The most accepted definition is the one described above — four feet high, eight feet long and four feet deep. This is based on the presumption of firewood being stacked for storage and transportation purposes. However, others point out that if you include air space between pieces of wood when stacking, a cord would actually measure three feet high, four feet wide, and eight feet long; this holds true if any type of solid material — not just firewood — is being measured.

Both definitions have their advocates, but the most widely adopted version remains the original — four feet high, eight feet long, and four feet deep. This definition allows buyers and sellers to accurately measure wood without having to account for air space between pieces. With this understanding in mind, we can move onto discussing measurements of a cord in more detail in the next section.

Measurements of a Cord

A cord of wood is a unit of measurement for firewood and other types of cut timber. While there is no official standard for cords, the most common accepted measurement is a stack 4 feet high, 8 feet wide, and 4 feet deep (128 cubic feet), or 128 cubic feet of tightly stacked firewood. The exact dimensions can vary from region to region, however. In some areas, a cord of wood may be 4 feet high and 8 feet long with any width.

For professionals selling firewood, measuring by the cord has become the standard since it is easy to measure accurately and has the benefit of saving time and money for both the seller and customer. Debate around the measurements of a cord often revolves around whether or not the buyer or seller should have to account for air space between the logs or bark included in the total volume. Some argue that as long as the overall measurement is correct, there should be wiggle room with regards to this debate; while others say that if you are buying a full cord there should be no wasted space inside, meaning all logs should fit snuggly together without gaps in order to capture the maximum amount of wood.

Ultimately, determining an agreement on the measurements of a cord (or lack thereof) will depend on who you are purchasing your firewood from, however either way it is important to ensure that you are getting what you pay for in terms of volume.

With regard to length and diameter, these will not always be equal, as log size and shape can vary greatly from tree species to tree species as well as seasonally. For example, many conifers tend to produce longer pieces of firewood than hardwoods during winter months due to their slower growth during this time and so length measurements can vary significantly depending on where your logs originate from. That being said, it is important to remember that when measuring the length and diameter for a cord of wood these factors don't necessarily need to add up exactly to 128 cubic feet; variability here is simply taken into consideration when calculating total volume measurements so that customers or sellers are not losing out by having to deal with too much/little extra space incorrectly accounted for in their measurements. In this sense, next section will discuss further details about length & diameter when it comes to cords of wood & how they interact with overall volume measurement strategies & agreements between buyers & sellers alike.

Now that we understand measurements associated with cords & debated varied opinions on specifications regarding them let us move onto talking further detail about one particulare aspect related - Length & Diameter - in the next section...

Length and Diameter of a Cord

When it comes to understanding the length and diameter of a cord of wood, there is some debate regarding how this is measured. On one side of the argument, many believe that a cord of firewood is equal to 128 cubic feet of cut, split and stacked wood that measures 8 feet long by 4 feet high by 4 feet deep. This means that generally a cord of firewood will consist of pieces of wood that range in size from 3-5 ft in length, and around 6-9 inches in diameter. On the other side, many argue that the measurements are slightly different, claiming that each piece should measure 16 inches in length with diameters ranging from 3-6 inches.

Regardless of which view is taken, a cord of wood can ultimately be decisive by its consistent volume: a full and stackable load measuring 8x4x4 feet or 128 cubic feet. The next section will discuss how to ensure you stack a full cord of wood for optimal energy efficiency.

Stacking Firewood into a Cord

When it comes to stacking firewood into a cord, there are a few different methods used to achieve the desired result. Depending on what stackers want to accomplish, they may choose one of these three primary stacking systems to use.

The first is known as the “face stacking” method. This process starts with cutting logs into manageable lengths and ends with them being arranged in stacks that go in one direction. The primary benefit of this system is that it cures the wood faster due to increased air exposure, meaning you can have a pile of ready-to-burn wood quicker. However, since each piece of wood will have different sizes, there is also potential for more waste with this method due to the need to cut wood into desired lengths before beginning the stacking process.

The second method is known as “coppiced stacking”. This involves arranging varying sizes of logs in alternate directions, forming a checkerboard pattern within the pile. This technique allows stakers to make efficient use of the wood and can reduce overall waste. While it may take slightly longer for the wood to cure using this method than face stacking, stakers can expect an equal amount if not more even curing from coppiced stacks and better insulation from wet weather due to its unique layout..

Finally, some people may also consider “battered stacking” when trying to decide how best stack their firewood for cords. This method involves simply leaning logs off one another in either a staggered fashion or an orderly manner, resulting in a cone-shaped structure. Battered piles generally produce more usable firewood than face or coppised stacks and tend cure faster due to their natural air exposure from all sides. However, one downside of this system is that it doesn’t offer all that much protection from wet weather and can be harder to manage compared to other stacks because of its conical shape.

Each type of stacking has its own set of pros and cons which should be taken into account when deciding which type of system is best for your needs. Regardless of what stakers at home decide is best for their situation, one thing remains true: Carefully ordered and stacked firewood will provide optimal results regardless of which technique is chosen. With that in mind though, it's important to note that splitting logs should occur prior to any type of piling or stacking if any planters are looking to achieve a certain cord size standard. The next section will discuss splitting logs for stacking into cords further so read on for more information on that topic!

Splitting Logs for Stacking

When it comes to preparing wood for the winter, splitting logs is one of the key steps. It is important to first determine what size and kind of log will work best for your needs. Splitting logs is an essential part of stacking and measuring a cord, as logs cannot be stacked efficiently until they have been split into usable pieces.

There are two main schools of thought when it comes to splitting logs: manual versus mechanical. Both processes can be effective ways to achieve the desired end result, but each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Manual methods often include the use of a hammer and wedge, axe and maul, or even saws with special blades made for splitting logs. This allows for a much more precise cut, as the user can adjust their force accordingly. This also allows for better control over the direction and size of each split. However, manual methods require a fair amount of physical effort and can be quite time-consuming.

Mechanical methods involve the use of electric or gas-powered splitters which are designed specifically for this purpose. They offer great speed, efficiency, and ease of use compared to manual methods, but they do come at a higher cost up-front. Furthermore, these devices are limited when it comes to producing more uniquely shaped pieces that still fit within a cord measurement.

Ultimately, choosing between manual and mechanical methods depends largely on what works best for each individual user's needs and budget constraints. Regardless of how you decide to split your logs, having them properly prepared before stacking is essential in order to get an accurate measurement in cord measurements. With that being said, let's turn our attention next to exploring how to measure volume when it comes to cord measurements.

Measuring Volume of a Cord

When it comes to measuring the volume of a cord of wood, the measurements can differ based on the type of wood. For some types of wood, such as softwoods like cedar and fir, the standard sizing for a cord is 4 feet by 4 feet by 8 feet. This means that each log in the stack must measure 8 feet in length and be cut so they are all the same length. Often, split logs will take up more space than firewood that has not been cut down, so using unsplit wood may provide more wood in one cord.

On the other hand, some people argue that splitting logs into smaller pieces can increase burning times and allow them to fit more easily into your fire pit or stove. Splitting logs also helps with air flow around the logs and enables air-intake from underneath which encourages faster burning and keeps your fire from going out sooner. Splitting also aids in reducing hazards, such as when large logs fall onto adjacent logs nearby once burned, or when logs slide around during burning.

Thus, how you choose to measure a cord truly depends on your personal needs and preferences. Once you have decided how to measure your cord, you can move onto estimating the amount of firewood you need for the heating season or an outdoor event.

Knowing which dimension to use when determining the volume of a cord is essential in helping to estimate and purchase appropriate amounts of wood. With this knowledge, you can now move forward to understanding how best to estimate the amount of firewood you’ll need for your next winter season or outdoor event - what follows next in this article.


The volume of a cord of wood can vary based on the type and how it has been cut. A standard for softwood like Cedar or Fir is 4'x4'x8', with each log being 8 feet in length and cut to the same size. However, there are benefits to splitting logs such as greater burning time, airflow around the logs, and reduced hazards during burning. The choice of how to measure a cord depends on your needs and preferences, but knowledge of dimensions is important when estimating necessary firewood.

Estimating the Amount of Firewood

Estimating the amount of firewood is the first step in determining the cost of a cord. Since a cord of wood contains 128 cubic feet of stacked firewood, it can be difficult to visualize how much wood is actually included in a cord. To help with estimating, most firewood dealers provide details about length, width, and height measurements for their cords of wood. Knowing the length and diameter of the firewood being purchased makes it easier to visualize the size of a full cord. It also enables consumers to compare prices offered by different dealers more accurately.

Another way to estimate the amount of firewood needed is to consider the number and size of logs included in a cord, or “face cord”. Generally, one face cord contains approximately 180-250 logs that measure 16 inches in length, 12 inches in depth, and 4-8 inches in width. By multiplying this calculation by 1/3rd, you can estimate how much wood would be found in a full cord. For example, 250 x 16in = 4000in divide by 3 will equal approximately 1300in which represents the amount of wood in one full cord.

Although these methods are useful for estimating the amount of firewood needed, there are additional factors to consider before making your purchase. Firewood that is dry and properly stored will burn better and more efficiently than green or wet wood because it creates less smoke and fewer sparks. However, some argue that burning greenfirewood will take up more space as it shrinks once left outside to dry. As such there is pros and cons from both camps when it comes to making an estimation decision around firewood types and quantity required for purchase.

Once you have determined the amount you need, you can move on to the next step - determining the price of a cord.

Determining the Price of a Cord

When it comes to cost, a cord of wood can vary widely in price depending on a number of factors. The type of wood being purchased, the size and quality of the pieces, and other market conditions can all influence the total cost.

Type of Wood

The most common types of firewood are hardwood and softwood. Hardwood is known for burning hotter, longer, and producing less smoke than softwoods. This is why it tends to cost more. It also requires more energy to cut and split than softer woods like pine or cedar. The specific type of hardwood chosen will also impact cost – more rare varieties will be more expensive due to scarcity.

Size and Quality of Pieces

The size and quality of wood will also affect the total cost when purchasing a cord of wood. Larger pieces that are already split and seasoned burn better and create less ash than smaller pieces. As such, they tend to come with a higher price tag since they require extra time and energy to prepare them for burning.

Other Market Conditions

Market conditions can also influence prices, especially during peak season times when demand is high. Suppliers may raise their prices during this period in order to remain competitive. On the other hand, those who purchase cords in bulk can often get discounted prices from providers because they are buying in larger amounts.

In short, determining the price of a cord of wood can be tricky given all the different factors that come into play. Affordability may be an important factor to consider when deciding which type, size, and quality pieces are best for your needs. Doing research ahead of time and being aware of current market conditions should help you find the best deal when it comes time to buy a cord of wood.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions with Explanations

How much does a cord of wood typically weigh?

A cord of wood typically weighs between 2,700 and 3,800 lbs. depending on the type of wood and whether it is stacked properly or not. The weight of a cord of wood is largely determined by its moisture content, so denser woods like oak or hickory will weigh more than poplar or pine. Pre-split wood can weigh significantly less than a full cord, since it takes up less space when stacked. It is important to calculate the weight of your firewood before bringing it home, as some delivery providers may charge additional fees for heavier loads.

What types of wood are commonly sold in a cord?

When it comes to the types of wood that are commonly sold in a cord, there are three main varieties to consider. The most popular and widely available options are firewood logs such as oak, maple, and birch. These hardwoods produce high-quality heat when burned, making them ideal for home stoves and fireplaces.

Softwoods, such as pine or cedar, are another type of wood that are frequently sold in cords. Softwoods burn more quickly than hardwoods and provide a lower quality of heat but they also produce less smoke and an aromatic smell that many people enjoy while sitting around a campfire.

Finally rounds or split logs typically used for landscape mulch purposes, such as elm or poplar, can also be found sold in cords. These types of wood are usually priced cheaper than other varieties because the logs are not meant to be burnt for heat.

Where can I find a cord of wood for sale?

When looking for a cord of wood for sale, the best place to start is at a local firewood supplier. They typically have pre-measured cords of both hardwood and softwood available, depending on your needs. Additionally, many lumber yards and home improvement stores offer bundles of firewood for sale, although they may not be exact cords. A quick online search should reveal any local wood suppliers or DIY stores that carry firewood.

Another option is to find private sellers on marketplaces like Craigslist and eBay. These can often be good sources of quality, cheaper firewood. However, you should always make sure you know exactly what you're getting in terms of size and type before making a purchase.

Finally, if you're in an area with heavy forest cover or have access to large amounts of wooded land, you may be able to cut your own wood. This could potentially save you time and money in the long run; however, it does require some knowledge about how to safely fell trees and measure a full cord of wood correctly.

How is a cord of wood measured?

A cord of wood is measured by its volume rather than its weight or length. One full cord is equal to 128 cubic feet, and it is typically composed of logs that measure four feet in length, stacked in rows of eight. The rows are arranged so that the logs cross each other perpendicular to one another and there should be no spaces between the logs. A cord of wood can also be divided into fractions (e.g., a “face cord” or “quarter cord”) if a smaller amount is required.

What are some common uses for a cord of wood?

A cord of wood is a stack of cut firewood with an exact volume of 128 cubic feet (3.62 cubic meters). It is typically used as a source of fuel for heating, cooking and other needs. In many parts of the world, it is still used as the primary source of energy.

One common use of a cord of wood is to burn it in a fireplace or wood stove. Burning wood creates pleasant heat that maintains a comfortable temperature in any room. Many people appreciate the aesthetic value that comes with burning a real fire in their homes.

Another common use for wood is to make charcoal. Charcoal can be used for barbecues and grills, as well as in smelting and blacksmithing operations. The charcoal from burning woods provides an alternative fuel source besides propane or gas.

Finally, cordwood can be split into pieces and used for projects such as furniture building and carpentry work. The distinct look and texture of wood adds character to these types of creations for people seeking a more rustic style.